A few quick thoughts

Sorry if this isn’t as coherent as my prior weekly blog entries, but I’m just not organised enough in my thoughts to go beyond bullet points tonight (I’m also writing this entry on my Kindle Fire and a touchscreen keyboard isn’t conducive to essay format blogging.)

* I’m still on pace for one blog entry a week in 2014, and will likely ramp that up as my writing gears up alongside my mood & enthusiasm.

* While my weight loss goal for the year seems an impossibly distant number, I am down a little over 5lbs, so it’s a start. Also, having an app with numbers & targets appeals to my competitive nerd nature. Now I just need to start exercising.

* I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m seeing some positive signs for my job search, so I’ve been doing a couple of extra things toward that (which has delayed my writing a little, and means my submission to the Richmond WriMos February critique group is running late.

* Another reason it’s running late is that I’m constantly trying to write out passive voice/to be verbs and thought I was doing well until someone posted a link to an analyzer that presents numbers and targets with a maximum threshold of 20%. As a competitive nerd, I’m shooting for less than 10% and struggling. Because I am insane.

* My gigantic Star Trek rewatch project continues apace. Having finished The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, and the first seven movies (The Motion Picture through to Generations), I’ve gotten through a lot. I’m currently in Season Three of Deep Space Nine and Season One (3rd episode) of Voyager. Don’t be surprised to see future blog entries ranking a few of these things….

* As a sports junkie, I suppose I should make a pick for Super Bowl XLVIII. I think Seattle keeps it close and low scoring, but can’t get anything out of Marshawn Lynch, and so Denver wins thanks to Matt Prayer’s leg. Broncos 17 Seahawks 14

* Have committed to beta reading someone’s novel by the end of February, so I’m trying to finish the book I’m reading before then.

* What’s going on in your lives, my dear followers? Continue reading

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Revisiting and editing motivation

As I believe I mentioned in last week’s blog entry, I’m looking at expanding this short piece into a more thorough story. There are a number of reasons for this, but the chief one is that I have an idea I want to try with it, and I think that the little bit I have in those 700 or so words has enough potential that I can buff it into something approaching readability.

A lot of the inspiration behind why that piece is getting the focus for at least the remainder of January boils down to three main reasons:

1. I’ve been in a very science fiction mood lately. Anyone who follows my twitter will know that I’ve been busily working my way through re-watching the entire Star Trek franchise, mostly thanks to the wonders of Netflix streaming. So far I’ve gotten through the entirety of The Original Series, the entirety of The Animated Series, the first six movies, six and a half seasons of The Next Generation and one and a half seasons of Deep Space Nine. I’m trying to do it in the order the shows aired or the movies premiered. I’m somewhere in early 1994 on this re-watch and the specter of the Generations  movie and Voyager are on the horizon. I guess that I’m looking at something that has a more downbeat vibe to it than Trek has in my own fiction, so some of my inspiration is writing this as a reaction to the “isn’t humanity wonderful?” attitude those shows have.

2. I happened to look back at critiquecircle.com and see that the feedback I have for the piece is generally pretty positive with only a couple of slight grammatical tweaks that I definitely need to make. Of course, some of that is due to the brevity of the piece. The fact that it’s a year old (if not more) now also strikes me as a good time to revisit the piece. I feel like i’m a better writer now than I was a year ago. I also have a more concrete handle on the nature of the conflict and where the characters are coming from. I’m also debating combining the idea with another, currently unrelated excerpt that I’ve shown to the Richmond WriMos group at one of our critique meetings. Not sure if that will happen or not, but I feel like “A politically-motivated war is thrown into chaos when aliens invade the planet it takes place on” is a promising logline that results from that cross-pollination.

3. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I really love world-building and a science fiction setting, even a relatively “soft” science fiction setting like this one (which I see as kind of a military space opera style) allows for more opportunities for that than the superhero/murder story I mentioned in last weeks blog. I suppose that the fantasy tale that I started for 2013’s NaNoWriMo also has that potential, but I’ve been reading it back, and it’s become so repetitive to me that i nee to set it aside for a good long time and clear it from my mind. I have so many priests and temples and knightly orders in that story vying for supremacy tat i need to really sit and figure out the geopolitics of the world and I’m not sure I have the patience to do that. Especially as the main idea of that was to use the low level fantasy world as more of a framing device for the characters invading the afterlife and divine realms, and I still haven’t gotten them there after 50,000 words. My historical dynasty series idea is still underdeveloped as I’ve only just started to appreciate the sheer amount of research that I need to undertake for it.

The other advantage of the initial piece being short is that I can attempt to write out the over reliance on “to be” verbs and passive voice construction relatively quickly and still restore it to a similar length.

What are any of my readers/followers working on?

#NaNoWriMo revisited: January is #NowWhat Month

Well, I’m being technically correct in my goal of having at least one blog entry a week on here in 2014, as this is still (just barely) the second week of 2014, being 13 days in and this is my second blog entry of this young year.

And unsurprisingly, like so many of my prior blog entries, it’s about writing, even though i was going to be more generalized in my subject matter this year. Some of that is inevitable, as one of my goals for 2014 was to write 500 words a day on average for writing, (I may be close to that, not actually checked) so it’s an activity that has been occupying my thoughts a lot lately.

And since this started out as a mostly National Novel Writing Month related pursuit, it’s probably not a surprise that my impetus for writing comes from the fine folks at nanowrimo.org and this pledge that they mention for revising the manuscript from this past November.

Of course, because I’m a writer with what I’ve heard called Attention Deficit Creator Disorder and find it impossible to stick to one thing at a time when it comes to writing, I’m immediately breaking the letter, if not the spirit of that pledge by opting to finish and revise my 2012 NaNoWriMo project, a superhero/conspiracy/murder story saddled with the title “Cloaked” rather than the fantasy piece you’ve seen excerpted on earlier entries on this very blog.

Mostly this is because Cloaked has sat long enough that it’s no longer totally familiar to me,so I have the distance to look at it somewhat more dispassionately and strip away a lot of the crap that’s in it. After all, it’s far easier to “kill your darlings” if you can no longer recall why they are your darlings. Other reasons for this piece to get the focus include the fact that when I submitted the second chapter to the wonderful Richmond WriMos monthly critique group meeting for January, it got mostly positive results, other than the typical (for me) first/nano draft problems of sneaky passive voice, too many “to be” verbs, and a little on dialog tag punctuation. I ascribe some of that to translating between British and American and most of it to me being more interested in getting the words down rather than seeing if they make sense. The group also allowed me to get a better handle on one of the protagonist characters,where to trim the ensemble and a little more on just who the antagonist(s) might be.

The other reason is that I’ve been on a bit of a comic reading kick, so superheroes is a genre that’s fun to return to, and that using the Snowflake Method outline strategy that I’ve mentioned before is really much more helpful on second drafts as opposed to first drafts.

Of course, I’m still using it for first drafts on a couple of projects. One of those is provisionally titled “Operation: Pegasus” and is based loosely on expanding this short piece into a more fully rounded project. This may end up being one of my Camp NaNo projects for 2014 depending on how my outlining and brainstorming go. I’m also working out an outline to what I hope to be a series of semi-historical fiction that starts out with Caesar’s invasions of Britain and continues at least until the time of the Jacobite Rebellion. That’s a hugely ambitious time scale,so we’ll see if I can manage it.

I’m also going to try and finish up the 2013 fantasy NaNo, or at least tie it together into something coherent.

An then there’s my back-burnered King Arthur piece…

I have a lot of writing for 2014 to do, so that 500 word goal seems easily attainable right now. Of course there 351 days to see how apt that might be.

Until next time, where I swear the blog entry won’t be writing focused. It might be sports, Star Trek or politics related, or perhaps an update on the job hunt and other goals, I’ll sign off with my traditional question:

What do you want to see on this blog?

2014: New Year, New Goals

Well, as I type, it’s still (just barely) January 1st, 2014. And, as with so many other things about the start of a New Year, it’s all about looking forwards, rather than backwards. Especially as 2013 kind of sucked for me overall.

Instead of dwelling on that, I’ve set myself some goals for 2014 to ensure that this year does not suck, or at least that if it does, it will be through no fault of my own.

I shared these goals on Facebook earlier, so if you know me well enough to follow me there, I apologize for the redundancy. Let’s look at those goals and a little bit of the whys & wherefores of them:

New Job

This is definitely the biggie, and it’s listed first because literally everything else is dependent on this. I have been unemployed for…longer than i care to admit. While this has proved helpful during the NaNoWriMo period as it does provide me with a lot of writing time, it has proved much less helpful in just about every other way. Most obviously,no job means no money, and because of how immigration works, I can’t claim any kind of unemployment/welfare. I’d rather not do that anyway because fundamentally, i want to be working. My background and degree are in Information Technology, so that’s the primary field I’ve been applying and exploring in. So far in 2014, I’ve applied for 34 jobs, and I’d like to increase that number. Obviously, I just need one person to say “you’re hired!” and my application rate will slow down. I’ also looking into retail and warehouse jobs as I just want to be working and earning.

New Home

I’m fortunate enough to still be on close enough terms with my ex-wife that she allows me to live in her spare room rent free, which is handy with the 0 income thing from the lack of job above. However, we’re both mature enough to recognize that this isn’t a viable long-term solution, especially as we’re both trying to move on in our lives (she’s been rather more successful on that score than I have currently). So, naturally, I’m scouring apartment listings to try to determine what I can afford given my credit rating and job situation. This also gives me a realistic idea of what kind of wages or salary I’d need to have from the new job above to be able to become properly independent again. Also, an apartment, or at least a place of my own is kind of essential if I ever want to start dating again…

New (to me) Vehicle

I’ll admit that this is more of a luxury desire than a goal. My current vehicle (aka the Limeymobile) is a mid-1990s Ford Aerostar minivan. While I have no issues with the coolness or lack thereof when it comes to minivans, I unironically love this big brown beast. The only issue is that it’s reached the age where maintenance and gas mileage just aren’t monetarily efficient enough for this to remain a daily driver given the no job/lack of funds thing. So I’m checking out used vehicles from the early 21st century at the least.

New Friends

This goal attracted the most commentary on my Facebook post. I think it was mostly a misunderstanding. Simply put, other than the wonderful people who are the Richmond WriMos, literally every person i know here in the United States of America, I met through my ex-wife, They are all people who are “our” friends (where “our” is me and the ex) rather than “my” friends, and I kind of want people I can hang out with, talk to etc. and even occasionally complain about other people I know who know me as just me rather than “oh, and him too.” type attitude. I can’t go into more detail than that, unfortunately. especially in a quasi-public forum online like this blog.

New Diet

I don’t eat healthily. I tend to retreat into food when I’m down or depressed, and as many of the goals above hint, that’s a fairly frequent state of being for me. For 2014, I’m turning that around. I’m determined to cut down on my snacking, my calorie intake in general, and especially on a lot of processed and refined foods. I’m also going to try to switch to a low carb/low gluten and higher protein regimen. Partially because eating a healthier diet promotes a more positive mental state and partly because of my next goal.

New Weight.

When I first moved to the US in 2003, I weighed around  185 lbs. Today, I’m hovering somewhere between 250 to 260  pounds. I’m sick of seeing a fat guy every time i look in the mirror (why yes, ladies, I am single, how did you ever guess?), so I’m determined to get my weight back below 200 lbs by the end of the year, if not sooner. The dietary changes are one aspect of that, the other is getting off of my fat butt and working out, either by joining a gym if finances allow or simply by taking up jogging, walking or running for a set regimen each day. I want to be thinner, and so I’m gonna try to do something about it.

New Wardrobe

Simple math, if I lose 60-75 lbs this year, none of my clothes will fit any more, so I’ll have to get new ones. Seems like a great reason to refresh the old wardrobe to me.

New Attitude

I spend too much time complaining about how my life has been going (this blog entry illustrates that somewhat) and not enough time thinking positively about how I’m going to change it. So, i need to try to be more upbeat and goal-oriented.

At least 1 new novel drafted outside of NaNoWriMo

As anyone who has followed this blog will know, I dabble in writing and enjoy it immensely (It’s become my biggest and most therapeutic stress relief). I want to keep doing that,so my two New Year’s Resolutions in regards to writing output are: 500 words written every day, and having a new entry on this blog at least weekly throughout 2014. So far, I’m good on the latter, not as much on the former, where I’m around 300 words short. (However as “day” in this context means “period in which I’m awake” rather than “actual calendar day that ends at midnight”) I still have time to stay on schedule and disciplined to keep writing.

Same old core self at the heart of it

While all these goals represent major life changes, I don’t want to fundamentally change who I am personality wise. I’ve grown to quite like me how I am when I’m not being miserable, and I think at least a few other people have too. So, I’d like to keep that essential kernel of Lost Limey-ness even as I strive towards these prior enumerated goals.

So, that’s my outlook on 2014 and where I want to be by the end of it (well, much, much sooner if possible), what are yours, dear readers?